I know, you’re probably wondering what anatomy could possibly have in common with Aperture. Before I open your eyes to another aspect of photography, there are three settings on your camera you need to have a working knowledge of when you decide to move out of manual mode. Aperture, ISO, and Shutter Speed. Not only do you need to understand what each of these are, you also need to understand how they work together. Today, it’s all about Aperture.
What is it exactly? Aperture is defined as being the opening in your lens which admits light to your camera’s sensor. Think of the aperture as the pupil of your eye. When you’re in a bright, well-lit area your pupils are small. There’s enough light around you, and you’re able to see without any issues. Now, when you walk into a dark room your pupils will expand. This is so your pupils can admit more light, allowing you to see as much as possible. Your camera works in a similar fashion, and utilizes measurements know as f-stop’s. The lower the f-stop, the wider the aperture, and ultimately more light will reach the sensor. The higher the f-stop, the smaller the opening, and ultimately less light will reach the sensor. However, the maximum aperture (measured as the lowest f-stop number) is ultimately decided by your camera’s lens. You should see a range on your lens (say, f/3.5 – f/5.6), but you may only see one number listed. This number will tell you the lowest f-stop you can set your camera to while using that lens.
Aperture has a second function: depth of field. A low f-stop (more light) also focuses the lens on a subject within your image. A high f-stop (less light) allows everything in the image to be clear. Here are two examples. First: You’re at an indoor event and you take a photo of someone. You set the aperture to the lowest f-stop you can (say, f/3.5), thus allowing more light in while focusing on your subject, and blurring the people in the background. Second: You’re outside and have an incredible view of the mountains on a sunny day. You set your aperture to the highest f-stop you can (say, f/22), knowing the surrounding is bright, and you will be able to have a clear image of the everything.
Confused? Don’t be, all you need is practice. Remember: a low f-stop means a brighter image while focusing on something specific in your image, a high f-stop means a darker image while the entire image is in focus. Now, grab your camera and try it out!
Watch for my next post where I’ll tackle ISO. Oh yes, there’s even more to know about light!
Terri Johnson, Owner, Plumb Pixel Photography
The Right Angle Matters